BIS

Shaping Science and Society

The issues are all around us

I was reminded at the Science Media Centre’s 10th birthday celebration of a classic science and society issue: how science is reported and the importance of the relationship between scientists and journalists. Coverage of the Higgs Boson or the potential exploits of the Bloodhound Supersonic car capture the public imagination. This is all to the good, but by contrast the Institute of Physics recently highlighted the low take-up of Physics among girls. Another important Science & Society issue is ensuring that our science workforce itself (including the whole span of scientific vocation from professors to apprentices) is a diverse one.

These are all issues that my Department has been involved with through its Science and Society programme over the last few years.  And many of you have had a key role to play in taking our objectives forward –  be that  engaging young people with science and engineering , or through attending one of the events or festivals that BIS sponsors. 

A refreshing experience

You may be aware that we set up five expert groups to help take forward action across five key science and society themes: Science and Trust, Science for Careers, Science and the Media, Science and Public Engagement, and Science and Learning.  We’ve recently published updates to those plans on our dedicated science and society microsite, and still welcome comments from those of you with an interest in the four plans that we have updated.

Publishing those updates was Step 1 in a review process that looks at how the science and society programme is directed:  do our programmes reflect real need?  Are there are other areas that we should be focusing on?  Just because we have funded an activity until now, doesn’t mean that we should continue to fund it.  We want the Science and Society programme which emerges from this process to have the greatest possible impact in meeting our objectives

Get involved!

With that in mind, I am asking you to take a few moments to tell us what you want to see as my department’s Science and Society objectives.   We have provided a first draft  of those on our microsite, and we now want to hear from you (either publicly or privately, the choice is yours) about what you think should be included, and whether we’re on the right track.  Ultimately, you – whether you’re a science and technology business, a science communication specialist, work with schools and  young people on an outreach programme, or a researcher keen to engage the public with your research  – will help take forward this programme.  We want you to help us shape it,

Evidence-based re-think

Once we have more evidence in place, we will be feeding back to you as a community regularly throughout this process to make sure that the relatively small science and society budget is as effectively targeted as we can make it.  We need your help with this, and I look forward to hearing your views, and seeing how the programme develops as a result.

2 Responses to Shaping Science and Society

  1. Steve McGhie says:

    There is still a lack of understanding of what UK science industry does and the contribution to society and economy is. When I tell people I work in the pharmaceutical industry there is still that blankness of what it all means from idea to patient and the effort made by science across all industry.
    There needs to be better informed society rather than what I would term “The dumbed down tabloid version” of science.
    The excitement in understanding and turning scientific data into knowledge, knowledge into understanding and understanding into making a difference to people every day is mostly forgotten about. Whether that is research, development, manufacturing or front line healthcare we need to ensure the positive messages of science can be put out into the public arena to engender the next generation of scientists, business people and industry.
    I’d be delighted to know how I can help do that

  2. Sofia Spyrou says:

    Both visions and objectives seem important and at the same time crucial. It is great that Government has got informed about Science and Society issues that occurred over the last years. Although there are some perspectives for improvements, the effort and funding for successful results should be continuously provided.

    As I have noticed, it is vague on how government will approach the different group of public. Unfortunately, there is not a single project that can successfully engage all society of the UK. Several projects should be set upon public attitudes, behaviour and views. The Government should consider approaching ways of society apart from the objectives and the aim of it.

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